Finn Juhl

1912 - 1989

Finn Juhl

Finn Juhl's design is characterized by an original and unmistakable artistic touch. For Juhl the mantra "form follows function" was not enough. On the contrary, the understanding of furniture as being closely related to the experimental idioms of fine arts was important to him. Juhl often found his inspiration in contemporary art, in particular in the organic forms of modern abstract sculpture. His furniture is characterized by a playful and light elegance and he is known as a pioneer of the organic variant of international modernism.

Juhl studied architecture at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and began designing furniture in the late 1930's. His first pieces were mainly intended for himself, but after setting up his own office in 1945 he soon became known for his unusual expressive and sculptural designs. He collaborated with master cabinetmaker Niels Vodder and the pair frequently caused a stir at the annual Cabinetmaker's Guild Exhibitions. One of Juhl's most well-known chairs is The Chieftain chair designed in 1949. It is a fine example of Juhl's innovative idea of separating the sculpturally shaped seat and back from the wooden frame. The same principle is evident in his NV45 chair from 1945. Here, emphasis is laid on the elegantly shaped armrests.

Finn Juhl's first American assignment came in 1951 when he was asked to design the interior of the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the UN headquarters in New York. An overwhelming task for a rather inexperienced young architect, but Juhl gained much praise for his result. This first experience in America and the contacts he made later proved valuable for many Danish architects by paving the way for the notion of Danish Modern to become internationally known and valued.